Award-winning Chinese sci-fi novel “Folding Beijing” will move into production as a movie later this year, following a green light from mainland China studio Wanda Film.
The film, titled “Folding City” is to be helmed by Josh Kim, the Korean-American director who previously made a splash with adolescent drama “How to Win at Checkers (Every Time)”. The film was selected as Thailand’s Oscar contender in 2015. Kim is currently in production on HBO series “Forbidden.”
For many years sci-fi was shunned by Chinese film industry regulators and specific subject matter, such as time travel, was explicitly forbidden. But attitudes have changed since the blockbuster success of “Wandering Earth” in 2019.
China’s National Film Administration and professional organization the China Association for Science Technology, last year announced policy guidelines for Chinese sci-fi. That followed a rethink which concluded that the genre fits into the ruling Communist Party’s broader ideological and technological goals.
The original “Folding Beijing” short novel was written by author Hao Jinfeng and won the Hugo Award for fiction in 2016, making her the second Chinese novelist to win the prize after Liu Cixin with “The Three Body Problem.”
Kim approached the author via a mutual friend and from early 2017 began shopping it around film pitching and coproduction events, including the Berlin Project Market and the Torino Film Lab.
It is set in a futuristic version of Beijing, where, to save space, the city is folded into three, according to the division of labor. The story follows a garbage worker who finds something in the trash that makes him want to give his daughter a better future. It takes him to the two higher levels of society that he barely knew existed.
“The setting is extremely ingenious, the scale of space and time double folding is magnificent. It shows the author’s extraordinary imagination and leaves plenty of room for film and TV adaptation,” said Wanda in a statement. The company is currently only committed to a feature film.
Kim has previously been reported as saying that because the underlying work is a novella, he will add material to it in order to complete the screenplay. Hao has also said that she will continue to expand the universe that she created.
Currently, the film is produced by Kim, Chris Lee (“Checkers,” “S.W.A.T.,” executive producer of “Valkyrie,” “Superman Returns”) and Yin Hongbo (aka Homber Yin) (“The Sun Also Rises,” “Let The Bullets Fly,” “Gone With The Bullets”). Wanda Film and Television Media describes itself as the project’s controller and principal investor. Previously-attached Indonesian firm Add Word Productions is no longer part of the project.
Production is expected to begin later this year.
At Torino in 2017, “Folding” was pitched as requiring a budget of EUR20 million ($24 million). Wanda has not disclosed the anticipated production costs.